With the formats getting shorter and shorter, there is a proportional increase in the demand of all-rounders in cricket.
A genuine all-rounder is the one who contributes with both the bat and the ball equally. Admittedly, not an easy business as it seems. Fitness is an essential element as they have to spend time in both departments.
All-rounders have played a significant role in victorious teams in cricketing history. Especially in world cup matches, the contribution from the all-rounders has been the key factor.
Whether it was Mohinder Amarnath and Kapil Dev in 1983, Wasim Akram in 1992, Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya in 1996, and Yuvraj Singh in 2011, it was the all-rounders who stood in front to grab the world cup for their team.
Recent addition to this list is Benjamin Andrew Stokes in 2019 for England. The 28-year old Durham based English all-rounder is already in the list of great all-rounders in the world. His contributions to his side are phenomenal, especially the ones with the bat.
Enough of the build-up. Let’s get into this article to know about the bravery he has shown as the English all-rounder – the top 5 innings he made out with his willow in all forms of cricket, that puts up the name “Ben Stokes” among the greatest in the game.
103 (63) vs Gujarat Lions (IPL 2017, Pune)
It was 10/3 already for Rising Pune SuperGiants, when Ben Stokes, the Rising Pune Supergiants No. 5 walked in. Gujarat Lions were hammering with their new ball. Successive dismissals of Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary and Steve Smith made things so complicated on the MCA pitch.
The English all-rounder started well with a straight drive on Pradeep Sangwan’s steaming delivery, followed by a pull against the wind for six at deep square leg, which made him get settled on the crease.
It was Ravindra Jadeja’s 2nd over that set the tone for the innings he played that day. He swept two huge sixes, one at mid-wicket and another at long-on off that over, which fetched 15 runs for Stokesy. He reached his second IPL fifty in 38 balls, and the team score got raised to 73/4. The required run rate was 10.25 at that time.
It became a numbers game after that. Stokesy started to pick the loose balls. Dhoni, on the other end, helped him in picking the right bowlers. Stokes swept Dwayne Smith as if he was playing a spinner and made 23 off 10 balls in Smith’s bowling. It was 44 off 24 when Dhoni got dismissed.
After Dhoni’s departure, when 25 off 12 was required, Stokesy hit two sixes off Basil Thampi’s over. RPSG now needed only 8 off the last 6 balls.
The first ball of the last over was sent to the boundary by Stokes with a classy cover-drive, which led to his maiden T20 hundred in 61 balls.
With Daniel Christian’s six, RPSG ended up winning the match by 5 wickets (with 1 ball remaining).
It was an incredible innings, which came in a tough chase, especially when the top order failed, and just the first sign of the ‘Match Winner Ben Stokes’.
Cricketer. Budding Writer. Blogs at CricIndeed.com